Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars

Of the gazillion recipes I have saved to try, several of them incorporate dulce de leche.  In case you are not familiar, dulce de leche is basically a type of caramel made from sweetened condensed milk.  Up until now, I have been unable to try any of these recipes because I have never been able to find dulce de leche in any stores in my area.  Finally, I decided to just try making my own dulce de leche at home and give this recipe a try – and of course, on this trip to the store, I actually found cans of the stuff!  (In the Mexican part of the ethnic foods aisle, in case you might have success finding yours there as well.)  In case you are unable to find dulce de leche in your area, there are multiple methods for making your own at home.  Personally, I would opt for the safe way detailed here by Smitten Kitchen.  Another option is to boil the cans as many do, but with the possibility of a major explosion, I probably would not be inclined to try this.

These little cheesecake squares are the perfect two-bite dessert.  They start with a simple graham cracker crust, topped with a thick layer of creamy dulce de leche cheesecake filling, and finished with a thin dark chocolate glaze.  They are just heavenly!  The filling is amazingly light and smooth and the dulce de leche lends the perfect warm caramel flavor.  Incredibly easy to make, the hardest part about these is waiting for them to cool, chill, glaze, and chill some more.  I cut these into 36 pieces and thought they were just the right size.  I put them in mini muffin wrappers for serving which worked out just perfectly.  Ben’s coworkers certainly seemed to enjoy them since very few returned home!  My pal Chelle baked these along with me this week, so check out her blog and see what she thought.

Dulce De Leche  Cheesecake Bars
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For the crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
1 tsp. plain (unflavored) gelatin
¼ cup whole milk
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
Scant ½ tsp. salt
1 cup dulce de leche

For the chocolate glaze:
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tsp. light corn syrup

Preheat the oven to 325° F.  To make the crust, line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil.  In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter.  Toss with a fork to combine.  Spread the crumb mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking pan and press down into an even layer.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling, sprinkle the gelatin over the whole milk in a small bowl and let stand about 2 minutes.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth.  Add in the eggs, salt and gelatin mixture and beat until well combined and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add in the dulce de leche and mix on low speed just until combined and smooth.

Pour the filling on top of the crust and smooth with a spatula.  Set the dish inside a 9×13-inch dish.  Add hot water to the larger pan to create a water bath.  Bake for 45 minutes, or until the center is just set.  Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool for 2 hours.  Cover, transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 6 hours before glazing.

To make the glaze, combine the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in the top of a double boiler and heat until the chocolate has melted.  Stir until smooth.  Pour over the cheesecake, tilting the pan to coat the top evenly.  Chill, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

To serve, lift the cheesecake from the pan using the foil lining.  Transfer to a cutting board.  Cut into 1-inch squares using a thin knife, wiping the blade between each cut.

Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Gourmet, December 2003

26 Responses

  1. So, Annie, when are you moving to Michigan so I can hire you as my personal chef?

  2. You had me at “dulce de leche” – holy yum!!

  3. I have been wanting to make these for a while now after I saw the recipe on Smitten Kitchen! Yours turned out great!

  4. They look so cute and yummy! Having lived in TX for so long, I got really used to dulce de leche. I moved away (north) and poof! It was all gone and so hard to find. I’m gonna have to make these soon…….

  5. This is COMPLETELY my kind of recipe 🙂 Love cheesecake & love dulce de leche. When I make dulce de leche, I do mine in the oven. You just pour it into a pie plate, cover it w/ foil & let it bake for 45 min. to an hour (inside a water bath). It works perfectly!

  6. I’ve had these bookmarked for SO long. I really need to make them soon. Yours look great. Glad you were able to find dulce de leche!

  7. These are just beautiful! They’re gorgeous!

  8. Wow, these look incredible!

  9. those look like perfect little treats!

  10. These look fabulous and they are the perfect size for a cocktail party! I just found dulce de leche at the grocery store too (I had to ask someone).

  11. Yours look great!! Thanks for the great suggestion!

  12. Just found your blog this week. I looked through all your posts to bookmark all the recipes that interested me! Just wanted to say that your blog is really inspiring! Great pictures, too — especially of Andrew in the baby-food posts — precious!

  13. I’m so glad you posted this! I purchased a 5 kilo bucket of ddl a month or so ago and have been baking away trying to get rid of it all. Thanks for helping!

  14. YUM! These look fantastic!! These would be dangerous in my house!

  15. Wow!
    Those are so pretty and perfect looking! I think I need to make these ASAP.

  16. Oh wow~ those are stunning and sound DELISH!! Thanks for sharing, now I have to add this to my “must make” list~

  17. Now that’s about the right amount of cheesecake for an individual. Looks great!

  18. Cooking in the can looks so dangerous! I know a lot of people who do it but I fear the hot caramel like substance exploding on my face. I will have to give Smitten Kitchen’s recipe a try. Now these cheesecake bars look awesome and I will definitely be giving them a try.

  19. I love these! I plan to go home tonight and make them. My husband thanks you for your ideas.
    And, your photography is amazing! It is hard to get the picure just right, and I think you captured these perfectly.

  20. When looking at the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, I noticed Deb said to glaze the cake within 2 hours of serving. I’m not sure that will work for me. I like to make a dessert, have a little bit and send the rest of it to work with my husband the next day. Did you notice any changes by glazing it earlier? Thanks!

    • Hi Michele,
      I wondered why Deb’s version made such a big deal about that. That is specifically why I left it out of my version, because I glazed mine in the evening and served them the next day and they were completely fine. I don’t think it matters at all. Hope that helps!
      🙂 Annie

  21. Boiling the can is completely safe . . . as long as the can is always covered by water during the cooking process.

    • In my mind, anything that has any potential to explode = not safe. I’ve heard of way too many people learning the hard way.

  22. Hi, I was wondering if this would work with skim milk?

    • Ashley,
      I’m not sure. I have never tried it. Probably a different reduced fat milk would be okay, but skim may be too, well, skim.

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